SQE or LPC: Which route should you take?

Choosing the right path to becoming a solicitor in England and Wales can be a daunting task, especially with the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) that is set to replace the Legal Practice Course (LPC). This guide aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of both routes, helping you make an informed decision.

FQPS Academy: SQE vs LPC: Choose Your Path to Becoming a Solicitor

Understanding the LPC and SQE

Legal Practice Course (LPC)

The LPC has been the traditional route to solicitor qualification in England and Wales for domestic candidates. It is a well-established course, containing additional content beyond the SQE syllabus, much prized by law firms. The LPC will still be a valid qualification for several years, and while law firms and other legal employers continue to offer training contracts, it remains a recognised way of entering the legal profession.

The LPC is divided into two stages:

  • Stage 1 covers core practice areas of law
  • Stage 2 involves vocational electives allowing candidates to specialise in specific areas of their interest

The LPC has a time commitment of at least two years.

The LPC involves:

  • Having a Qualifying Law Degree (QLD), or Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL)/Common Professional Examination (CPE) if you do not have a law degree
  • Completing the LPC
  • Undergoing a two-year training contract
  • Passing the Professional Skills Course (PSC)
  • Satisfying the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) character and suitability rules

To be eligible to qualify through the SQE:

  • Have a degree or equivalent
  • Pass SQE1 and SQE2
  • Complete two years of qualifying work experience (QWE)
  • Satisfying the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) character and suitability rules

Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE)

The SQE is a new, independent centralised assessment for all would-be solicitors who wish to qualify in England and Wales. There is no prescribed training course for the new SQE assessments, although course providers like FQPS Academy offer SQE1 & SQE2 preparation courses to students to get them ready for these assessments. The SQE will eventually replace the LPC, which will be phased out over the next 5 years or so as the SQE becomes the only route to qualification.

The SQE assessments are administered by Kaplan and are generally
open to any person with a degree or equivalent.

The SQE has a timeframe of six years in which you have to complete the SQE assessments and apply for admission as an English solicitor.

To know more about SQE Exam.

"The Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) is a single, rigorous assessment for all aspiring solicitors. The SQE will mean that everyone who becomes a solicitor will meet the same high standards in a consistent way."

About The Solicitors Qualifying Examination - SRA

Key Differences Between LPC and SQE


Training Contract vs Qualifying Work Experience

Under the LPC, a period of two years of a training contract is an essential element. However, the SQE offers more flexibility with the qualifying work experience, which can be gained through a placement during your law degree, working in a student law clinic, or as a paralegal.



The total cost of the LPC ranges between £7,500-£17,000, depending on the institution you choose to study at. The total cost for taking both SQE assessments with Kaplan will be £4,115, excluding fees associated with SQE preparation courses.


Preparation Time

If you study full-time, it will take about a year to complete the LPC, while studying part-time will be about two years. Preparation time for the SQE depends on various individual needs and circumstances, but on average, it is likely to take about 9-12 months to prepare for both stages of the SQE exams.

Which Route Should You Choose?

Deciding between the LPC or SQE isn’t really black and white. It ultimately comes down to what your personal needs, career goals, time, cost, and preference are. The SQE route will be considerably more cost-effective than the LPC, and it will take you a lot less time to qualify. However, it is expected that there will be a low pass rate for the SQE assessments, which might make the SQE route to qualification more challenging than the LPC.

For students who have, or expect to obtain a training contract, the LPC is the appropriate choice of course. Students who choose to sit the SQE will have to complete two years of QWE, so the key question for them is - will I be able to obtain QWE? At the moment, a lot of students studying for the SQE have already obtained some form of legal employment, which will count towards their QWE, so the SQE will be an appropriate choice for them.

Another factor to consider are the differences in the assessments: for example, the SQE has far more skills assessments than the LPC (16 tasks in total).

Finally, the other key factor students are considering is how long it takes to study for the LPC and the SQE. The LPC typically lasts for one academic year when studied full time. It is possible to study for the SQE in a shorter time than this, but this is because there is no elective content in the SQE syllabus.

Both the LPC and SQE preparation courses are available in online and attendance mode and can be studied full or part-time. This means both routes have built-in flexibility for students who have work or caring responsibilities.

The shorter timeframe for SQE and the fact that QWE can be started before, during and after sitting the SQE may make it a more flexible option for certain students, particularly those with work that will amount to QWE.

FQPS Academy: SQE1 / SQE2 - SQE or LPC Which Route Should You Choose?

Popular Questions to Ask Before Choosing LPC or SQE

Currently, there is no clear preference between the LPC and SQE among law firms. Some are transitioning to the SQE sooner, while others are sticking with the LPC until 2023 or later. Regardless of the route, firms will continue to hire students who perform well in their chosen path.

Why should I consider the LPC if the SQE is the latest path?

The LPC is still a valid qualification for a few more years and is recognized by law firms and other legal employers. It's a well-established course that offers more content than the SQE, which is highly valued by law firms. As long as the LPC remains a valid route to qualification, it will continue to be a popular choice among students and employers.

The SQE preparation courses are shorter than the LPC. However, all students must complete two years of on-the-job training, either through a training contract or QWE, to qualify.

Both the ULaw LPC and SQE preparation courses offer flexibility as they can be taken online or in-person, and can be studied full-time or part-time. This is beneficial for students who have work or caring responsibilities. The SQE might be a more flexible option for some students due to its shorter duration and the ability to start QWE before, during, or after the SQE.

The assessments for the LPC and SQE are quite different. The LPC involves a mix of closed and open book knowledge-based assessments with multiple choice questions and problem-solving questions. It also includes one skills assessment in legal research, drafting, writing, interviewing, and advocacy.

The SQE consists of two parts, SQE1 and SQE2. SQE1 involves two five-hour multiple-choice question papers, covering a wide syllabus. SQE2 includes 16 assessments covering various skills set in different contexts.

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